As I’m sure you gathered from the title, this post is about breastfeeding. If that’s not your bag, by all means, skip it!
Before Colette was born, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding. But I swore that if it didn’t work for me, I wouldn’t get crazy about it and I would stop. I didn’t understand why mothers agonized over it.
Until I became one of those mothers. I am breastfeeding and it is not going well. And it’s making me kind of insane. But the thought of stopping is also making me kind of insane. Actually, the thought of stopping is kind of heartbreaking. I worry that I won’t have a connection with my daughter anymore. I’ve heard that weaning can be “traumatic” for a baby. Baby trauma? Oh, sign me right up. Just what every mother wants to hear, right? One site described weaning as “the long goodbye.” Um, that makes me really sad. I don’t feel ready to stop, but I’m not sure how much more my psyche can take.
Here’s the deal. Breastfeeding in the hospital seemed to go fine. The lactation consultant there told me my latch looked great. But once Colette got home, she fell asleep after five seconds. But still, I thought everything was ok…until I went to the pediatrician and she had lost over 10% of her body weight. And then the next time we went back she had lost even more. The doctor evaluated her and said her sucking reflex wasn’t developed and basically she wasn’t able to get much milk out. The effort was too much for her and that’s why she was falling asleep.
We saw a lactation consultant. She said the same thing. The doctor and the consultant agreed that her frenulum (membrane under her tongue) might be too tight. So we had that snipped. They said it could take up to four weeks to see any signs of improvement from the procedure.
We have to do daily exercises to keep the frenulum from growing back. We also do “suck training” exercises several times a day.
On top of that, I’ve been pumping every three hours after every feeding to maintain my milk supply. While I’m pumping, Tim gives her a bottle of expressed milk and, if I don’t pump enough milk, some formula.
I can handle these things, especially since Colette seemed to be improving a lot over the last week. But then I started getting plugged ducts every 48 hours, which my lactation consultant said is definitely not normal. And then I got mastitis (breast infection). So that means antibiotics and a several-times-a-day dose of acidophilus to try and avoid getting thrush. And hot compresses every time I nurse to try and loosen the clogs. And lecithin supplements twice a day to try and prevent the clogs from returning. And now my skin is irritated from all the pumping, so I’m pretty much in pain all the time.
I saw a lactation consultant for the second time yesterday. She said Colette was still gaining weight too slowly, so we have to increase her supplement. All well and good. My baby needs to be healthy and gain weight. But now that we’ve increased her supplement, she’s not as hungry, so any improvement we’ve gained in the nursing department has tanked. She’s just not that into nursing because she’s not that hungry before each feeding. I feel like we lost all of the ground I fought so hard to gain.
I know this is not sustainable, especially not after Tim goes back to work in two and a half weeks. But even with all of the craziness, the thought of not breastfeeding anymore kills me. I know no one would judge me if I stopped. But, as always, I am my own worst judge. But there needs to be a balance. Breast milk is undoubtedly best for baby. But a strung-out, half-insane mom is not best for baby.
So, peanut gallery, I would love it if you would share your personal stories. Did you have any breastfeeding struggles that you overcame? Or did you make the switch to formula and, if so, how did you make peace with that decision? I could use some perspective either way.
Note: I’ve been trying to write this post for four days. Kudos to all of those bloggers out there who post regularly with a newborn. Don’t know how you do it.